so, I’ve settled on a track layout for my O27 “door layout”


The lighted bumpers came from eBay and have the benefit of indicating power status in the sidings! 

I’m going to fix the track down now, and look at the wiring in more detail. It can be made to run from a single power connection, but that clearly isn’t the right approach. The switches are the “dead block” type, although the x-crossing appears to have the effect of powering the associated siding from the reversing loop, without reference to the entry switch...

so, a couple of questions.

1) the two uncoupler tracks (in the passing loop) appear to trip the power supply. I suspect that this is because there are two many switches and accessories together, resulting in too much accumulated voltage drop and/or resistance. It looks as though a power connection between the two, would solve this?  

2) I’d like to fit some sort of anti-derail precaution, especially on the lower straight. I’ve seen a suggestion to fit an isolating pin on the straight exit, one joint from the switch, do that this area is only live when the switch is set that way? This sounds good, any comments? 

3) I have an automatic crossing gate. The “weight trigger” looks to fiddly, and I’ve seen a thread here on the forum about running it from an insulated rail. I’ll look into that. 

4) I have a Dwarf Ground Signal. I’m wondering what use to make of this. 


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I like the layout design/track plan... looks  good.

I've built a lot of door layouts over the years. We have craft stores here that sell small sheets of brown foam, that I use to cut to size to make ties for the track. Which really reduces the rumble sound of the hollow core door.

Pertaining to question one, sounds like there might be a problem with the UC tracks? They're momentary operation, so there will be a voltage drop when you are activating them. Which is normal since they run off track power. Your turnouts all look to be manual, so there's no draw there. It may be that, when the 2 switch tracks are both straight, the power is then shut off to that inner pass, so then the UC tracks aren't getting power. Then when you operate the UC track, it's getting power from the ground, but not the hot rail (which ever way that manual switch track shuts off power... either ground or hot).

Personally I prefer to rewire my UC tracks to run off auxiliary power instead of track power. That way, no matter how slow the train is going, I always have the same power going to the UC track.

Same goes for my trackside accessories like crossing gates, banjo signals, etc. They're all wired from secondary voltage (not the track) and activated via a toggle (or momentary button) and not a insulated rail or weight trigger lock on. My feeling is, for a small layout I don't need the crossing gate going down on every single pass of the train. Having those items on buttons for activation instead of a insulated rail adds a little more participation on my part when running the trains.

Also, don't know if you're planning on drilling holes, but here's a tip for feeding wires through a hollow core door. When drilling a hole, try to hold the drill as straight as possible, so your hole goes as perfectly straight through as possible. Then use a thin sipping straw, and feed that through the two holes in each board surface of the hollow core door. Going through the top is easy... you might have to fiddle with the straw to find the bottom hole. Once you do, it's way easier to run the wire through the straw, than trying to find the holes with the wire alone.

Also, as much as I like those 1950's vintage manual 027 switches (because of that shut off power feature), I use the MPC era 027 switches with the large brown box. Because of the horizontal sliding lever that operates the switch, I can hook those up with nylon fishline, drill a couple holes, and operate the turnouts from the front of the layout... a poor man's electric turnout.

Then for yard areas, I've gone to the trouble to chop them down to just the footprint size of the track. On small door layouts, this is a huge help for gaining a little more space for other things. I wedge a piece of foam under the swivel rails, which I have found holds it in place, yet still allows operation - just via my finger to select either straight thru the turnout or through the curve.


Another pointer: I painted my whole door with an acrylic neutral gray. This became my "track ballast." Then I figured out a layout plan, and screwed the track in. Then at my leisure, I used green and brown acrylic paints to edge off the track road bed and become my ground area.

Here's a link of interest. It's a old thread, but might inspire you.


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An addendum: Don't know if this will help, or inspire you. But go to this woman's YouTube page. She's build several door size layouts. Scroll down to the bottom (8 years ago post date) and there's a series of videos on building a door layout.

She's also got a few others without door layout in the title. Those are closer to the top and have titles like "2017 Super O Easter Display," "My Easter 2014 Layout," "Retro Lionel Display," and "Easter 2013 Display."

Here's one of those videos... I watched all of these for inspiration. Everyone has their own way of doing things, but I'm sure you'll find something to get out of watching them.


She has an elaborate layout that she has posted videos of.  Seems as though she also has a fairly extensive collection.  

Dan Padova


"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill


Definitely ditch those pressure plate activators for signals and trackside accessories. They are a real pain.

Use insulated track sections instead. You can either make your own or buy them (about $8 or so).  If you do a search here on the forum should find good information on using tried and true insulated track sections.


Nice plan in a small space. I'm not familiar with the switches you are using. They are totally manual? Assuming that they only feed power to the center rail, in line with the direction of the turnout- then place a insulated pin on the center rail a section or two before the turnout. This will kill the power to that section and give the train enough room to stop before catastrophe strikes.

I made a insulated outside rail block for a set of cross-buck signals. Very simple to do, just open up the metal clips holding the tie to the rail and insert a small piece of card stock under the rail (just like the center rail). A tip I learned is to pre-bend the card to fit the rail before setting it in place and then re-fold the tie- clips back down. A couple of insulating pins on either end of the rail and you are good to go. You can see the insulated rail in the beginning of this video (notice the white card under the clip in the inner rail).

Three Rails Are Better Than None 


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2017-05-30 18.05.19

@RSJB18 He's using the 1022 Manual 027 Switch, first made in 1955. It's easily distinguished by the small square shaped switch box housing with the vertical throw lever AND (if it's not missing) the red arrow indicator. It's the only 027 switch that had a built in electrical switch mechanism so you could have insulated sidings or safety blocks. Depending on the configuration of your layout, you'd also need additional lockons or power feeds because of the "shut off" feature of this particular switch.

Liked your video too. Always enjoy seeing your photos over on the switcher Saturday thread.

The red arrows on the switches aren’t fitted, but I have some of them.

The cut-off is useful. The whole thing reminds me of the Tri-Ang “series” track I had when I was a kid. Tri-Ang didn’t have the electrical accessories though, being 12v dc 2-rail, and Hornby Dublo 3-rail was 12v dc by then. 

I’ve worked out how to fit an insulated rail block to run the gate crossing, I’m less sure about the ground signal. Reading other threads, I think a relay is required, operated by another insulated rail. I was thinking to fit it to protect the exit from the reversing loop?

The power WILL find its way around if the switches are set correctly but it’s rather subtle! 

H’mmmmm. It did occur to me that I could run one powered from the centre rails of the tracks of the passing loop, with a common earth to the main loop. 

The lights face the outer passing loop and show red when the inner loop is energised, green when the outer loop is energised. Both lamps lit, indicates that the switches are mismatched. 

A 2 door layout. 2 36" by 80" doors with a 1x2 screwed to the front edge for a total

width of 37 1/2". About a 9" gap between the ends for a length of about 169". 

Marx 034 track. No mechanical fasteners between track and table so it is super quiet. 

I am old, so it is all old school. Lockons, 154c contactors, Marx insulated clipon

rail insulators. Pardon the mess, but I just got the track tweaked for smooth running. 

Will be permanent Christmas theme, so white doors with quilt batting on them. 


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